A filling repairs and restores the surface of a tooth that has been damaged by decay, fracture, or wear. A dental filling strengthens the tooth. If tooth decay is not repaired at its early stages, it will worsen and additional or alternative dental treatments may be necessary.
With proper care and routine oral hygiene, a filling has a lifespan of 5-12 years, depending upon the type of filling material used.
Tooth sensitivity is the most common early warning sign of enamel loss due to tooth decay. While there could be a number of reasons for this sensation, only your Dentist can diagnose its underlying cause. If a damaged tooth surface is not treated early, your discomfort will increase.
A filling prescription is made when:
- The surface enamel of a tooth is damaged due to decay, fracture, or wear.
- A tooth's surface needs to be evened out to improve your ability to bite or chew.
After a thorough exam of your teeth, gums and supporting bone structure, your Dentist will discuss treatment options with you and answer your questions. If the agreed-upon treatment is a dental filling, your Dentist will:
- Apply a local anesthetic to the affected area of your mouth
- Use a hand-held instrument to prepare your tooth by removing the decayed or damaged tooth surface
- Cleanse the prepared tooth to remove debris and bacteria
- Isolate the tooth using a small, protective sheet called a "dental dam" to keep it clean and free of saliva during your procedure
- Select the dental filling material based on the placement of the tooth, the location of the damaged area of the tooth, and the extent of its surface damage
- Apply adhesives and filling material to the prepared area and shape it to match the look and feel of a natural tooth
- Expose a special hand-held light to the filling material to harden the repaired surface of your tooth